For many years, agencies, trail consultants, land managers and trail stewards have sought the perfect trail surface for sustainable multi-use trails. The ongoing search has led to the development of new alternative surfacing products and the realization that the there may be several suitable options depending on the unique characteristics of the area. The best trail materials are determined by trail use, local soils, hydrology, topography, vegetation, availability and local familiarity with the trial material.
For this project trail materials were compared based on a variety of factors. Relative to the Arana Gulch Master Plan criteria, the trail surfacing must meet a variety of requirements:
- Safe, in all types of conditions for public use
- All weather accessible for wheelchairs, per Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Protect water quality and subsurface drainage
- Context sensitive
- Low construction impacts and maintenance
Porous concrete provides a safe, firm, level, nonskid surface; its ability to maintain this safe surface in all conditions including heavy rain; its durability and its low maintenance requirements meet the project requirements. Its appearance is more “rustic” than asphalt or conventional concrete due to the voids that allow water infiltration, i.e. a better visual fit for a natural setting. Colors are available similar to the color of the native soil and the adjacent environment in Arana Gulch. This material was reviewed by our design team, and was deemed acceptable per the project’s environmental documents, master plan and permit conditions.
Features that the City considered in selecting porous concrete include:
- Durable; does not rut, ravel or crack easily
- Strong; stays firm, level and safe
- Long life expectancy
- Low glare
- Integral color of native earth
- Low maintenance
- Good for wheelchairs, strollers etc.
- Less inviting for skateboards and fast traffic
- Accommodates light maintenance vehicles
- Rustic appearance
- Cost effective